Are we being forced to look at ourselves as soon as we sit down in our seats at the Park Avenue Armory? Or are we being pushed to examine the world and the people within our society? It’s a compelling first few moments as we ponder what is before us, a looking-glass of some sorts, distorted and as wobbly as Billie Piper’s character as she descends into a pit of destruction and denial. It reminded me of that reflective surface that the film version of ‘Cabaret‘ ended on, forcing us to see a world view of what was happening in that moment of time, smacking us hard up against the wall of reality. Federico Garcia Lorca’s tragic Yerma, the second play of the ‘Rural Trilogy‘ was first performed in 1934, interrupted by right-wing groups, but praised by the left for its honesty and modern outlook. Simon Stone’s adaptation bares the weight of its history but drives it forward into the modern world of British culture and liberalism. It encapsulates all the intricacies of desperation of the privileged, slanting the character that once was named Yerma, a Spanish word for ‘barren’, into the much more generic ‘Her’, who is unsure how to deal with the idea of not getting what she wants, smashing up against the glass walls of her predicament. It’s a sad and horrendous journey to watch, especially as enlivened by Piper (National’s The Effect) and as coaxed through by director Stone (Hayloft Project’s The Promise) into a journey riddled with complications and reactions that will be forever etched into my brain.
Placed under a microscope for all of us spectators to dissect, Piper brings us a character that is full of life and subtle insecurities, wrapped in a package that looks all so good from the outside, but, in the same way we all are, she is flawed and troubled deep down inside. Her love life advancing into a disconcerting entanglement with John, played stoically and solidly by Brendan Cowell (Barbican’s The Wild Duck) feel hopeful but clouded, untethered but attempting to find a nurturing piece of solid ground to plant roots in. The chapters of their lives begin to play out, from 1-7 in quick dramatically surprising takes trapped inside a viewing space much like an aquarium or surgery auditorium, giving us the sneaky opportunity to observe as if they all are specimens in some strange experiment on human nature. The magnificent set, designed brilliantly by Lizzie Clachan (Menier’s The Truth), is a quick change platform that almost magically drives us forward with intricate power and speed, diving into the deep waters of desperate desire. Without even realizing her need for motherhood at first, she drops down into a rabbit hole that slowly manifests into something inconceivably raw and painful inside of her body and soul.
Piper’s character is surprised at first by the Conception (#1) of her obsession, rising out of a nonchalant attitude for attachment, but from one deconstructed and brilliant cinematic cut to another, beautifully orchestrated to the sharp lighting design cues from James Farncombe (People, Places & Things) and ushered into place by the spectacularly disturbing music and sound design by Stefan Gregory (Theater Basel’s Engel In Amerika), with clear and concise video design by Jack Henry James (National’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers), her Disillusionment (#2) drives her into an escalating state of frustration.
The Moratorium (#3) of her existence is delicately maintained momentarily, but the Reality (#4) of her situation is exacerbate by each and every interaction and conflict she has with her emotionally detached mother, Helen, played exquisitely by Maureen Beettie (West End’s The Ferryman), her troubled and fertile sister, Mary, played heroically by Charlotte Randle (Almeida”s Medea), and her young office worker and fire-starter, Des, played to wild girl perfection by Thalissa Teixeira (Globe’s The Broken Heart). There is Deception (#5) in her relationship and in her perception, and a Descent (#6) into forced measures, particularly driven by interactions with her former lover, Victor, played with a sweet charm by John MacMillan (Almeida’s Hamlet), that can only lead to a Coming Home (#7) that is both painfully thrilling and ultimately disturbing on every emotional level possible. If Piper doesn’t rip your heart in two, I’d wonder if you left it at home with your babysitter.
The chapters fly by, and the anxiety mounts of Stone’s rearrangements of the classic Spanish tale spiral out with an exacting and pinpointed jab into the heart of Her pain and anguish. Piper’s performance, heralded in London when it premiered at the Young Vic in 2016/2017, winning her six out of an available six Best Actress theatre awards, including the coveted Olivier Award, is earth shattering in its depth and complete free fall into pain and obsessional desire. The madness that exists and rears up inside of her, trapped in the same manner she is on stage, unable to hear and interact with the outside world, is heart wrenching and devastating to witness. Ricocheting off each of the glass walls that entrap her with a force that one is surprised they don’t shatter, but her confinement is scarily secure. And the cast rise up heroically to her challenge meeting her in the terrain between the walls with an equal and sustainable energy, infusing us with all the clues that helped create these jailed walls.
Although the piece veers away incredibly from the classic tale, especially in the climatic scene, the overall impact is deafening. Yerma is the play and Park Avenue Armory is the place, so go join Her there, and get a good look at yourself and those people that surround you. You won’t be disappointed.
For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
Asi Wind’s Inner Circle Where Cards Are Magical and Slight of Hand is Astounding
My guest absolutely loved Asi Wind’s Inner Circle pre, but if you have been to Speakeasy Magick at The McKittrick Hotel, much of what is here will seem repetitive, though still amazing.
Asi, is good looking, charming, amusing and has a wonderful slight of hand. The Gym at the Judson has been designed and lit by Adam Blumenthal to make the space warm and inviting. The space only has 100 seats so you are up-close and personal.
Before the show starts audience members are asked to write their names and initial on a blank card with red or black sharpie’s. These are the cards he uses as his deck, so that each night the show is personalize.
Wind is a wonderful storyteller and loves his craft. He is infectious about his passion and in so brings his audience in. Each trick is celebrated as he builds his momentum. You will have seen most of these tricks before, if you have been to The McKittrick, but Asi makes it fun and exciting.
My guest could not wait to bring her grandson and throughly enjoyed the show. That alone made the performance special.
Asi Wind’s Inner Circle: Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street, until May 28th.
Theatre News: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bad Cinderella, John Kander, KPOP and The Rewards of Being Frank
A Statement From Andrew Lloyd Webber
I am absolutely devastated to say that my eldest son Nick is critically ill.
As my friends and family know, he has been fighting gastric cancer for the last 18 months and Nick is now hospitalised.
I therefore have not been able to attend the recent previews of Bad Cinderella and as things stand, I will not be able to cheer on its wonderful cast, crew and orchestra on Opening Night this Thursday.
We are all praying that Nick will turn the corner. He is bravely fighting with his indomitable humour, but at the moment my place is with him and the family.
Opening Night Performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Bad Cinderella is Thursday, March 23, 2023 at Imperial Theatre, 249 W 45th Street.
Red Carpet arrivals of celebrity guests including Afyia Bennett, Senator Barbara Boxer, Alex Brightman, Tory Burch, Kandi Burruss, Jordan E. Cooper, Erin Dana Lichy, Lamar Dawson, Machine Dazzle, Bethenny Frankel, Mandy Gonzalez, Amber Gray, Jae Gurley, Amber Iman, Ashley Longshore, Carson Kressley, Judy Kuhn, Loosey LaDuca, Luann de Lesseps, Marcia Marcia Marcia, Martyna Majok, Ingrid Michaelson, Andy Mientus, Minnie Mills, Pablo Montalban, Justin Peck, Wendell Pierce, Zac Posen, T. Oliver Reid, Krysta Rodriguez, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Sylvester Stallone, Elizabeth Stanley, Alex Timbers, Tommy Tune, Tanairi Sade Vasquez, Ana Villafane, Anna Wintour and the cast and creative team of Bad Cinderella including Andrew Lloyd Webber, Linedy Genao, Carolee Carmello, Grace McLean, Jordan Dobson, Sami Gayle, Morgan Higgins, Cameron Loyal, Christina Acosta Robinson, Savy Jackson, Mike Baerga, Raymond Baynard, Lauren Boyd, Tristen Buettel, Alyssa Carol, Gary Cooper, Kaleigh Cronin, Josh Drake, Ben Lanham, Angel Lozada, Mariah Lyttle, Robin Masella, Sarah Meahl, Michael Milkanin, Chloe Nadon-Enriquez, Christian Probst, Larkin Reilly, Julio Rey, Lily Rose, J Savage, Dave Schoonover, Tregony Shepherd, Paige Smallwood, Lucas Thompson, Alena Watters and more.
John Kander celebrates his 96th birthday on Saturday, March 18, six days before New York, New York, his 16th original Broadway musical begins performances at the St. James Theatre., giving him the distinction of being the oldest composer to open a new musical on Broadway. To honor the legendary composer Susan Stroman, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Colton Ryan, Anna Uzele and the cast and creative team of New York, New York surprised John Kander with a Big-Apple-sized rendition of “Happy Birthday.” You can watch the video here.
A titan of the American Theatre, John Kander made his Broadway debut as the rehearsal pianist for the original production of Gypsy starring Ethel Merman in 1951. The first Kander & Ebb musical, Flora The Red Menace, debuted in 1965 and starred Liza Minnelli in a Tony-winning performance. What followed was a string of legendary musicals including Chicago, Cabaret, Steel Pier, Curtains, The Visit and The Scottsboro Boys, all culminating in this new musical set in post-war New York, inspired by the 1977 Martin Scorsese film of the same name, which features the iconic song “New York, New York.” New York, New York marks the 15th Kander & Ebb musical to open on Broadway.
New York, New York marks the first new John Kander & Fred Ebb musical to open on Broadway since 2015’s The Visit, which was nominated for 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical. The legendary duo is also currently represented on Broadway with Chicago, which holds the distinction of being the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.
New York, New York stars Colton Ryan (Girl From The North Country, Hulu’s “The Girl From Plainville”) as Jimmy Doyle, Anna Uzele (Six, Apple TV+’s “Dear Edward”) as Francine Evans, Clyde Alves (On The Town) as Tommy Caggiano, John Clay III (Choir Boy) as Jesse Webb, Janet Dacal (In The Heights) as Sofia Diaz, Ben Davis (Dear Evan Hansen) as Gordon Kendrick, Oliver Prose as Alex Mann (Broadway Debut), Angel Sigala (Broadway Debut) as Mateo Diaz, and Tony Award nominee Emily Skinner (Side Show) as Madame Veltri. The ensemble includes Wendi Bergamini, Allison Blackwell, Giovanni Bonaventura, Jim Borstelmann, Lauren Carr, Mike Cefalo, Bryan J. Cortés, Kristine Covillo, Gabriella Enriquez, Haley Fish, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Richard Gatta, Stephen Hanna, Naomi Kakuk, Akina Kitazawa, Ian Liberto, Kevin Ligon, Leo Moctezuma, Aaron Nicholas Patterson, Dayna Marie Quincy, Julian Ramos, Drew Redington, Benjamin Rivera, Vanessa Sears, Davis Wayne, Jeff Williams, Darius Wright. New York, New York begins performances Friday, March 24, 2023 and officially opens Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at Broadway’s St. James Theatre (246 West 44th Street).
Featuring music and lyrics by Tony, Emmy & Grammy Award winners and Academy Award nominees John Kander & Fred Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret), written by Tony Award nominee David Thompson (The Scottsboro Boys, Steel Pier), co-written by Sharon Washington (Audible’s Feeding The Dragon) and featuring additional lyrics by Pulitzer, Tony, Emmy & Grammy Award winner and Academy Award nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In The Heights), New York, New York will be directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers, The Scottsboro Boys).
It is 1946, the war is over, and a resurgent New York is beginning to rebuild. As steel beams swing overhead, a collection of artists has dreams as big and diverse as the city itself.
Among them is New York native Jimmy Doyle, a brilliant but disillusioned musician looking for his “major chord” in life: music, money, love. The odds are against him getting all three until he meets Francine Evans, a young singer just off the bus from Philly, who is destined for greatness. If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere.
Tickets for New York, New York are now on-sale at www.NewYorkNewYorkBroadway.com. Tickets start at $59.
This new musical is inspired by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Motion Picture New York, New York written by Earl M. Rauch.
Sony Masterworks Broadway, along with producers Tim Forbes and Joey Parnes, share new track “Super Star” from KPOP – Original Broadway Cast Recording – listen here. Featuring vocals from chart-topping Korean songstress and show lead Luna as well as the show’s talented cast of performers, “Superstar” is the second track to debut from the album, which arrives digitally on Monday, May 8 and on CD Friday, May 12. “Super Star” premieres today alongside an accompanying video featuring Luna – watch here.
Available for preorder and presave now, KPOP – Original Broadway Cast Recording was produced by Helen Park, Matt Stein, and Harvey Mason jr.(NCT 127, Red Velvet), and features music, lyrics, music production and arrangements by Park and music and lyrics by Max Vernon. The first-ever Broadway musical to celebrate Korean culture with Korean, Korean-American, and API representation on and off-stage, the album features a star-studded cast of performers from the world of K-pop, including chart-topping superstar and lead Luna, BoHyung (from the K-pop group SPICA and half of the duo KEEMBO), Min (from the K-pop group Miss A), Kevin Woo (from the K-pop group U-KISS), and more.
The Rewards of Being Frank, currently running through March 26, 2023 at the Mezzanine Theatre at ART/New York Theatres (502 West 53rd Street), is now available for streaming, also through March 26 only. The World Premiere play, written by Alice Scovell, is a sequel to Oscar Wilde’s immortal 1895 comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest. https://ci.ovationtix.com/35099/store/donations/49755 The cast for The Rewards of Being Frank feature Moboluwaji Ademide Akintilo (New York Classical’s The Importance of Being Earnest (Two Ways), Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Frank, James Evans (The McKittrick Hotel’s The Woman in Black) as Algernon, Kelly Mengelkoch (Cincinnati Shakespeare Company) as Gwendolyn, Tora Nogami Alexander (The Acting Company’s Twelfth Night) as Cecily, Jeremy Dubin (Cincinnati Shakespeare Company) as Ernest, and Christine Pedi(Broadway’s Chicago, Talk Radio, Off-Broadway’s Forbidden Broadway) as Lady Bracknell. Oscar Wilde’s much-loved The Importance of Being Earnest receives a hilarious sequel in this world premiere. Set seven years after Wilde’s play, see what happens to our characters when they meet Frank. After all, the only thing more Important than being Earnest, is being Frank! Performances are Tuesday-Sunday at 7:00 PM with matinees on Wednesdays at 2:00 PM. Running time is two hours including intermission. Tickets are available on the NY Classical website. Advance reservations are $35 per seat. These reservations are refundable—in cash, at the theatre—following each regular performance.* All NY Classical programs are free and open to the public. Pending seating availability, FREE admission will be available beginning one hour before curtain, on a first-come, first-served basis.The Rewards of Being Frank is a co-production of New York Classical Theatre (Stephen Burdman, Founding Artistic Director, Matthieu Chapman, Literary Director) and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (Brian Isaac Phillips, Producing Artistic Director). Mr. Burdman directs. The streaming version of The Rewards of Being Frank is available for a donation of $10 or higher. You can watch the recording as often as you wish and at any time. The link will expire at 10:00 pm on Sunday, March 26, 2023. To order, or for more information, please visit:
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